By Ms. Ankita Gupta & Voiceover by Mr. Sumangal Haldar
The idea of a vacation in the Netherlands mostly fills our minds with attractive, crowded city squares, ancient churches with stained-glass windows, museums displaying the artistic heritage, an army of people on bikes (bicycles), the century old windmills, the beautiful colourful tulips, and of course the canals which are spread throughout the city.
And these canals are not just to enhance the beauty of the city or to consciously manage the city’s water supply; there is a small town in the Netherlands, Giethoorn, that still uses its canals as a primary mode of transport. This town, or rather, they call it a Dutch village, is mostly a car-free village. One can travel till the town’s outskirts by car or bus but then you definitely need to rent a boat.
Giethoorn is a very different town. Simply picturesque canals, thatched roof houses on both sides, peaceful, all seem too beautiful to be real in today’s world. Turn anywhere and you can see the characteristic wooden bridges built over those canals. It feels straight out of an old fiction book. The bridges are lined with flowers in the spring and the town gets even prettier. A little sunshine is all you need to cheer up everything.
This town fascinates one and all with twists and turns in the canal network. It’s fun to rent a boat and gently glide along the waterways. Whisper boats are pretty common here which are really quiet and do not disturb the peace and harmony of this Dutch village. They are also pretty safe and easy to manoeuvre for inexperienced sailors (like me!). Sailing through a boat alongside the recommended routes enables you to have a good look at the scenic waterfronts with thatched roof cottages and farms.
Bike trails have been recently constructed so some houses are reachable by bike. Cycling in Giethoorn is a rare experience. The bike pathways take you through forests, lakes, heaths and of course through the village where you can maybe get a glimpse of an elderly resident talking to his neighbour or kids strolling along the canal. There are various cycling routes available, each with signs and directions to guide you through.
This town doesn’t fail to attract kids too. All the activities are safe with children. A few museums and the vast farms and lakes are just perfect for a picnic. The idyllic atmosphere helps you relax and just spend a day without the usual city hustle-bustle.
This town usually doesn’t find a spot in everyone’s itinerary since you would first want to visit the well-known cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam or The Hague. Those cities are definitely attractive with all their museums and churches and the architecture that speaks volumes about its history but Giethoorn is something which is a different experience. So if you have time while visiting this small country, please pick a day to visit this “Dutch Venice”.
The author is a software professional working at Netherlands. She describes herself as a literary enthusiast and a doting mother of a super-active child.